challenging dualisms - a risk?


The phone rings. I’m in the middle of writing, sorting through a new (old) thought. After a brief hesitation, I decide to answer. It was a friend who spent years working for the Catholic Church. She was calling to follow up on an animated dinner conversation from two nights before. We had been talking of mind/body, spirit/matter, human/nature dualisms and how the Church had done such a good job of constructing humans as superior to nature.

"It is so good to deconstruct all this," she states. "It helps me to identify with the universe, with natural systems…. It lets me know, ‘no, that’s not the way it is,’ and I no longer subscribe to that system, and take on a whole new system with no hierarchy." (phone call,  1pm, Jan. 5, 2005)

What is the risk of speaking of spiritual animism in a predominantly Christian community? Whether the risk was real or not (and I think this varies, depending on the individual), I certainly felt vulnerable and as a result, constrained, in my explorations of spirit in ways that seemed to move beyond Christian understandings of divinity.